01-08-2022 09:38

Responsibility is all about taking action

In 2021 Nordea’s ESG experts engaged in more than 1,000 dialogues with companies in the name of Nordea’s funds. The dialogues were held to address issues such as climate change, human rights and governance. This means that every investor who owns shares in these funds helped make a difference – this year more than ever!

As active owners, Nordea’s funds use their influence as shareholders to improve the practices of the companies they invest in. This demanding work is done in the name of the funds and requires resources and expertise. In practice, it can be done in many ways: voting at annual general meetings, engaging in dialogues directly with the company representatives, being a member of nomination committees, conducting field visits to factories and taking part in investor initiatives.  

Because investment funds pool the money of large numbers of individual investors, companies consider the funds important shareholders and are willing to hear their views and suggestions regarding climate change, human rights and corporate governance.

Record number of dialogues with companies

Environmental, social, and governance criteria (ESG), also known as responsible investment criteria, refer to the factors used to measure the sustainability of a company.

In 2021 we engaged globally in 1,033 dialogues with companies Nordea’s funds invest in to address various ESG issues. Most dialogues (458) focused on good governance. While dialogues about environmental (372) and social issues (203) accounted for a smaller share, the total number of dialogues was higher than ever.

Due to Covid-19, we were unable to arrange as many field trips to the local offices or production facilities abroad as before but with the help of virtual communication tools our engagement activities, in fact, increased.

Most of the companies we engaged in dialogues with were European (38%) but the share of North American companies was almost as high (34%). One-fifth (20%) of the dialogues concerned Asian companies.  

Engagement overview 2021

In 2021 we engaged in 1,033 dialogues with companies Nordea’s funds invest in to address various ESG issues.

How we voted in 2021

The pandemic also had an impact on how Nordea’s funds were represented at annual general meetings (AGMs). Many of the meetings were organised virtually, and even at the meetings held in person, attendance was low due to the restrictions on gatherings and travel. Most AGM voting was therefore carried out via a third-party proxy voting service. The system provides data for institutional investors to be used for making decisions. Moreover, it helps support sustainable development by reducing the need to travel.

AGM voting is an important part of the active engagement carried out by Nordea’s funds. The AGM is the highest decision-making body of a company, and the voting results often determine the company’s future direction.

Last year, we voted to support many initiatives focusing on the climate and environment, data security and enhancing diversity in particular. Moreover, we provided our expertise to support companies with their dividend and remuneration policies. In 2021 we exercised our voting rights through Nordea’s fund holdings more than 4,000 times, which was nearly four times the number in 2020 and accounted for 95% of all possible items up for voting. We also plan to further develop our voting policies.

In our online Voting Portal, you can see how our fund management company Nordea Funds voted at various meetings. 

In lockstep with other investors

In addition to having one-to-one dialogues with various companies, Nordea’s Responsible Investments team of 25 analysts participated in a total of 36 ESG initiatives, which aim to tackle the challenges of the future.

Last year, 7 brand new initiatives were introduced:


Finance for Biodiversity is a global financial sector initiative aiming to reverse nature loss and preserve biodiversity. The signatories of the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge are committed to protecting and restoring biodiversity through their investments. 

In the joint investor statement for stronger biodiversity policies, 78 investors call on governments to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and revive the economics of biodiversity before the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Kunming, China.  

Curbing climate change:

In the global investor position statement Vote on Transition Planning coordinated by IIGCC, investors call on companies to disclose their commitments, plans, responsibilities and concrete steps to achieve net-zero emissions.

In the global investor statement to governments on climate change, more than 600 investors call on governments to improve their climate policies with the utmost urgency.

Human rights:

In the global Investor Statement on Human Rights and Business Activities In Myanmar, 86 investors call on companies with business activities in Myanmar to ensure they respect human rights.

In the Investor Statement in Support of Mandated Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence in the European Union, investors call on the European Commission to include human rights and environmental due diligence in forthcoming legislation.

In the Investor Statement on Corporate Accountability for Digital Rights, investors express their concern with the weak governance of digital rights risks and the lack of transparency in the technology sector, affecting people’s rights to privacy, access and freedom of expression. 

More information about the 29 previously launched sustainability initiatives is available in:

Responsible Investments Report 2021
Active ownership